Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do You Love Me?

Today's Reading:
Num. 36:1 - Deut. 1:46
John 21:1-25
Psalm 48:1-8
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 21:17-19
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." 18 Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

During the arrest and trial of Jesus, Peter had denied Jesus three times. Now the resurrected Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Each time Peter affirmed his love for Jesus, and Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

Following Jesus requires a love for him above all else, participation in his ministry, and a heart to bring glory to God in life and in death.

Response and Action:
How many times do I deny or fail Jesus in the trials and tasks of daily life? For each and every time I do, I need to hear his voice asking, "Do you love me?"

To love and follow Jesus, I must deny self. Jesus said, "Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matt. 10:39) To love and follow Jesus, I must share in his ministry -- "Feed, care for, and shepherd his sheep."

To love and follow Jesus, I must share in his suffering ("when you are old you will stretch out your hands") and face things that are beyond my choice and control, and yet give glory to God. As the Apostle Paul said, "whether by life or by death, may Christ be exalted in my body" (Phil. 1:20).

This day, O God, help me to love you more than all else. Help me to serve and share in the saving work of Christ. In every circumstance, every choice, every action, every temptation, and every trial, may I hear Jesus voice asking, "Do you love me more than these?" In every case, give me the grace to say "Yes, Lord, you know I love you," so that in life and even death I give you praise. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Mark 12:29b-31
29b " 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship
by N.T. Wright

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Faith AND Doubt

Today's Reading:
Numbers 33:40-35:34
John 20:1-31
Psalm 47:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 20:24-28
24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
When the disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, he found it difficult to believe. Maybe they had seen someone or something else. Thomas would have to see it for himself. He would have to hear Jesus' voice, see his face, and see the evidence of his crucifixion.

When Thomas did eventually see Jesus, he was so convinced that he exclaimed, "My Lord and My God!" His expressions of praise and worship for Jesus are especially meaningful in light of how skeptical he had been. We should also not fail to notice how Jesus allowed Thomas to worship him. Jesus' claim of deity and authority is implicit in his acceptance of Thomas' confession. If Jesus did not consider himself to be Lord and God, why would he let Thomas to say such a thing?

Response and Action:
My doubts and concerns are not too much for Jesus. God will meet me in my honest doubts and help me come to the truth. Faith is not opposed to reason. A humble skepticism may lead me to genuine faith.

O God, I believe in Jesus. Increase my faith and help me to deal with honest doubts. Help me to see Jesus and, as my eyes are opened, make me quick to confess him as Lord and God. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 11:6
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Faith AND Doubt
by John Ortberg

Monday, November 28, 2016

An Ever-Present Help in Trouble

Today's Reading:
Numbers 32:1-33:39
John 19:23-42
Psalm 46:1-11
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 46:1-3 
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Trouble is never far away. Neither is God. The psalmist proclaims that God is ever-present. He is with his people in every moment of trouble.

The psalmist has complete faith in the provision and power of God. When the troubles are big, God is bigger. When the earth gives way, God is immovable. When the seas come crashing in to destroy, God is steadfast and sure. The two-fold confidence that the Lord God is almighty, and is with us gave the psalmist peace in the midst of life's storms.

Response and Action:
Truly believing in God's power, God's purposes, and God's presence makes a difference in how I face the troubles and terrors of life. When it comes to problems and pain, there is always something. That's why I need to remember that when it comes to peace and promise there is always Someone.

God is as present as my problems. His presence is even more real and persistent than my troubles because he is greater and deeper than any problem. Beyond sickness, he is the hope of health. Beyond war and politics, he is peace and truth. Beyond death, he is life. Beyond my sin and weakness, he is salvation and transformation. Beyond heartache, he is joy. Beyond darkness and despair, he is light and truth.

O God, save me from trouble and mercifully stir my heart toward complete trust in you. Grant me a deep sense of your loving presence when the troubles of life threaten to overwhelm me. Remind me of your faithfulness. Calm my heart. Help me to be still and know that you are God. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: John 14:27; 16:33
14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

For the Tough Times: Reaching Toward Heaven for Hope
by Max Lucado

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jesus of Nazareth - King of the Jews

Today's Reading:
Numbers 30:1-31:54
John 18:25-19:22
Psalm 45:10-17
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 19:19-22
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews." 22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

Jesus was very straightforward in his claim to authority. In response to Pilate's questions, Jesus said, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world" (John 18:37). When Pilate, irritated at Jesus' silence, spoke about his authority over Jesus, Jesus replied, "You wouldn't have any authority if I didn't allow you to have it."

By turning symbols of kingship (crown, robe, scepter) into symbols of contempt, the soldiers who mocked Jesus demonstrated their understanding of his claim. The Jews who handed Jesus over to Pilate said, "He claimed to be the Son of God." Pilate purposefully threw the word "King" back in their faces to provoke and annoy them.

The "King" claims of Jesus seem to annoy people today too. How many people today would raise their voices in objection to Pilate and say, "Don't write King Jesus. Instead, write Teacher Jesus, or Prophet Jesus, or Philosopher Jesus, or maybe even Savior Jesus."

Response and Action:
Belief in Jesus requires the acceptance of his authority. He must be recognized as King—he is Lord, he is master, and he is the highest authority.

I want Jesus to be the King of my life. I will commit myself to yielding to him in every choice, action, circumstance, opportunity, goal, direction, and relationship. In all my ways I need to acknowledge his authority over me.

O God, help me to follow Jesus in thought, word, and deed. Help me to live in complete surrender to Christ. Help me to submit to his authority and to trust his loving and gracious reign as my king. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

How God Became King
by N. T. Wright

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reading Schedule for November 27 - December 3

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, November 27 -
Numbers 30:1-31:54 / John 18:25-19:22
/ Psalm 45:10-17

Monday, November 28 -
Numbers 32:1-33:39
/ John 19:23-42 / Psalm 46:1-11

Tuesday, November 29  -
Numbers 33:40-35:34
/ John 20:1-31 / Psalm 47:1-9

Wednesday, November 30  -
Numbers 36:1-Dt 1:46
/ John 21:1-25 / Psalm 48:1-8

Thursday, December 1 -
Deuteronomy 2:1-3:29
/ Acts 1:1-26 / Psalm 48:9-14

Friday, December 2 -
Deuteronomy 4:1-49
/ Acts 2:1-47 / Psalm 49:1-20

Saturday, December 3 -
Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25
/ Acts 3:1-26 / Psalm 50:1-15

They Drew Back and Fell to the Ground

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 28:16-29:40
John 18:1-24
Psalm 45:1-9
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 18:6-8
6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8 "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."

John's account of Jesus' arrest includes a very important detail missing from the other gospels. It also seems to be missing from most contemporary recounts of the story. I've never seen this detail depicted in any Passion play, movie, or painting. I've rarely heard it talked about in sermons. Many Christians actually react with surprise when I point out this detail in John's eyewitness account.

When Judas led a detachment of soldiers and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees to the garden to arrest Jesus, an amazing thing happened. Jesus asked, "Who are you looking for?" They replied, "Jesus the Nazarene." Then Jesus said, "I am he," and when he said those words, Judas and all the soldiers and officials, with their swords and lanterns and torches, fell to the ground.

What an incredible display of Jesus' authority and the power of his word! Clearly, he would not have had to submit to their arrest. No wonder Peter was so emboldened to strike out at a guard. Jesus had made his point, and so asked for the release of his disciples, which was granted, and only then submitted to arrest.

Response and Action:
Jesus clearly did not have to submit to arrest. This demonstrates his free and selfless choice to suffer death on the cross for us and for our salvation. Today, I will offer up my thanks to Christ Jesus who loved me and gave himself for me. I will praise him for his selfless gift of salvation. As a follower of Jesus, I will endeavor to live a selfless life, and surrender myself to God in service to others.

Help me, O God, to have the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus. He emptied himself and was obedient to death—even death on a cross. Help me to empty myself and freely choose to live for you. Give me the grace and courage to serve others in the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Philippians 2:4-8
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

40 Days Living the Jesus Creed
by Scot McKnight

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Prayer Jesus Prayed for Us

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 26:52-28:15
John 17:1-26
Psalm 44:13-26
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 17:20-21
20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Though it may sound confusing at first, I like to refer to John 17 as "The Lord's Prayer." No, it's not the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1-4). It is, however, the longest, most personal, and deeply relational prayer of Jesus recorded in Scripture. John 17 gives insight into Jesus' sense of mission, his hope for the world, and his love for his disciples.

Jesus asked his Father God to help him accomplish his purpose in a way that would demonstrate divine love and glory. He asked God to protect, sustain, and guide his disciples. He asked God to help them know the truth and to live holy lives. He prayed for the unity of believers—not just for those who were following him at that point, but for all believers who through the testimony of the disciples would subsequently come to believe in him.

Response and Action:
In this prayer of Jesus, I can recognize his claim to divinity. He calls God his Father and claims to have been present with God in glory before the world began. I also recognize Jesus' call to his disciples to follow him in faith, to walk in holiness, to be witnesses of the truth, to share the gospel, and to live in unity with other believers.

O God, thank you for Jesus and his prayer for all who believe in him. Thank you, Jesus, for interceding for your people at God's right hand. By the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, help me to grow in my faith, to lead a righteous life, to be a light, to live in harmony and shared purpose with other believers, and to give glory to God. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 133:1
1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Thinking About Church Life
by R. Paul Stevens and Robert Banks

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Having Peace in Troubled Times

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 26:1-51
John 16:1-33
Psalm 44:1-12
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 16:33
33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

In these hours when his death, resurrection, and return to the Father were imminent, Jesus gave his disciples important promises and provision. He promised to send the Holy Spirit who would convict the world of sin and guide them into all truth. He promised that though they would face grief and trouble, he would sustain them, and ultimately their grief would turn to joy. He promised them that they could make requests to God in his name, and that God would provide for them and make their joy complete. He promised them that though in this world they would see trouble, they could take heart and live in faith, being confident that he had overcome the world.

Response and Action:
I will look to the Holy Spirit for truth, guidance, and understanding. I will hold on to Christ Jesus through every hardship and grief. I expect to find hope in Jesus, trusting that God hears and answers every request I offer up to him in Jesus' name. I need to remember that though troubles are a certainty in this broken world, Jesus has overcome the world and will one day set all things right. I will take courage and comfort in these promises.

O God, thank you for the Holy Spirit who convicts, guides, teaches and renews me. Thank you for the promise and hope I have in Christ. Help me to take courage as I face troubles and hardship, and help me to overcome through faith in Jesus. O God, sustain me by your Spirit. Redeem and renew all things through Jesus. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 85:6-9
6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.

Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent
by Ben Patterson

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Vine and the Branches

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 24:1-25:18
John 15:1-27
Psalm 43:1-5
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 15:5-8
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Living in relationship with Jesus is essential to becoming a person who glorifies God. In the same way a branch must be connected to the vine in order to produce fruit, I must live in connection with Christ. If I am abiding in Jesus, my life will bear fruit that is consistent with Jesus. Loving as Christ has loved is the best evidence that I am abiding in him. Bearing the fruit of Christ's love brings glory to God.

Response and Action:
I will do all I can to abide in Christ. I will look to Jesus for the guidance, the power, the nurture, and the transformation I need to love as he loves. I will be intentional about seeking Christ through prayer, study, obedience, community, worship, and service. I do not want anything to threaten or diminish my connection with Jesus, and so I will put those things aside and ask God to prune away those dead branches that stifle my wellbeing and fruitfulness.

O God, thank you for the fruitful life I am able to live through Christ. Help me to stay connected to Jesus. By the power and grace of his Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will, and walk in your ways to the glory of your name. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Ephesians 5:8-10
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 11 and find out what pleases the Lord.

The Fruitful Life
by Jerry Bridges

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Peace I Leave with You

Today's Reading:
Numbers 22:21-23:30
John 14:15-31
Psalm 42:7-11
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 14:25-28
25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jesus promised his followers that God would send the Holy Spirit to them. The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would teach them all things and remind them of all Jesus had spoken.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is so much greater than anything the world has to offer or give. God's Spirit comes alongside his people to comfort, transform, and guide them. Christ's promises and the gift of his Spirit are a source of lasting and real peace. The Spirit is able to put the mind and heart at peace—calming fears and dispelling anxiety.

Response and Action:
I will take hold of this promise Jesus has made to his followers. Jesus has made provision for me through the gift of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Christ, sent from the Father. I will live with assurance, believing this promise, and look to the Holy Spirit for peace, understanding, wisdom, and hope. The Holy Spirit is able to help me remember all Jesus has said.

Thank you, Jesus, for this promise. Thank you, Father, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, teach me, lead me, calm me, and direct me. Remind me of all Jesus has said and, by your power and grace, transform and strengthen me that I may walk in the way of Christ Jesus to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 2 Thessalonians 3:16
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today
by John Stott

Monday, November 21, 2016

As I Have Love, So You Must Love

Today's Reading:
Numbers 21:1-22:20
John 13:31-14:14
Psalm 42:1-6
Click on Text Link to Read Online
Focus Verses: John 13:34-35
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Jesus calls his followers to love each other. The love he commands is the same love he has exemplified. Following Jesus means loving like Jesus. This type of love is the true mark of the true disciple.

Response and Action:
If I am to love others as Jesus loves, I will need to know and understand all I can about Jesus and his love. I must read, study, contemplate, and emulate all that the scriptures reveal about his example of what love should be. I cannot duplicate something I do not know.

Since mature followers of Jesus have more experience at practicing and pursuing Christlike love, there is much to be gained from following their example too. I will pay attention to the lives and actions of those who have been following Christ for a long time. Those who are mature, committed, and growing in their walk with Jesus are a visible example of what Jesus' love looks like in my world. I will copy them as they copy Christ.

O Lord, help me to know and understand the love of Jesus. Help me to experience it. Help me to share it. Help me live out love in such a way that it is clear to all around me that I am following Jesus. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 John 2:5-6
5 "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight

Sunday, November 20, 2016

You Should Do as I Have Done for You

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 19:1-20:29
John 13:1-30
Psalm 41:7-13
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 13:14-17
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

The normal time for foot washing would have been upon entering the room. The water, basin, and towels must have been just sitting there in plain sight. Any one of the disciples could have taken the role of servant, but none of them did. They certainly must have seen no was serving them, but apparently did not see the opportunity to serve each other.

After the meal had begun, Jesus got up from the table, took the role of a servant, and began washing feet. He demonstrated that true greatness and authority is lived out in servanthood. He told his disciples blessing would result from doing what he had modeled.

Response and Action:
I want my eyes to be open to opportunities to serve. If I am observant, I will see these opportunities all around me. They may be as simple as washing dishes or housekeeping. The longer I follow Jesus, and the more like him I become, the better I should be at serving.

O God, make me a servant. Give me eyes that see what needs to be done. Give me hands that are ready to pitch in and help. Give me the humility and wisdom to see that no act of service or care is below me. Give me a willingness to serve and give me the joy and blessing that comes from serving in Jesus name. It's in his name that I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others
by Scot McKnight

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Reading Schedule for November 20-26

Tips for Bible Readers
Reading Schedule for 2016-2017

Sunday, November 20 -
Numbers 19:1-20:29 / John 13:1-30
/ Psalm 41:7-13

Monday, November 21 -
Numbers 21:1-22:20
/ John 13:31-14:14 / Psalm 42:1-6

Tuesday, November 22  -
Numbers 22:21-23:30
/ John 14:15-31 / Psalm 42:7-11

Wednesday, November 23  -
Numbers 24:1-25:18
/ John 15:1-27 / Psalm 43:1-5

Thursday, November 24 -
Numbers 26:1-51
/ John 16:1-33 / Psalm 44:1-12

Friday, November 25 -
Numbers 26:52-28:15
/ John 17:1-26 / Psalm 44:13-26

Saturday, November 26 -
Numbers 28:16-29:40
/ John 18:1-24 / Psalm 45:1-9

I Have Come into the World as a Light

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 16:41-18:32
John 12:20-50
Psalm 41:1-6
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: John 12:44-46 
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Jesus claimed to be the light God had sent into the world to deliver people from darkness. He said that seeing him was a the way to see the one who had sent him. Believing in him was actually believing in the one who had sent him. To accept Jesus' claims about himself is also to accept his testimony about the will, purpose, and nature of God.

Response and Action:
Jesus' coming into the world changes everything. It makes it possible to know God in a personal and human way. It makes God more approachable and understandable. My faith is in Jesus and the God he makes known. There are so many questions and so many versions of God in the world, so I will take my questions to Jesus. I will listen to his words and reflect upon his actions, trusting that he alone is my best source and guide for knowing the truth of God.

O Christ Jesus, you are the light of the world. You are the true light that enlightens all who seek truth and life. Your words are spirit and life. You are the image of the invisible God. You are able to deliver me from the dominion of darkness and bring me into the light of your Kingdom. Shine truth and purpose and life into my life. Help me to be receptive to all you have for me. Transform me that I might become a testimony of your grace and power. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Colossians 1:15-20
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Jesus: Lord and Savior
by F. F. Bruce

Friday, November 18, 2016

Come Quickly to Help Me

Today's Reading: 
Numbers 15:17-16:40
John 11:55-12:19
Psalm 40:9-17
Click on Text Link to Read Online

Focus Verses: Psalm 40:11-13
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me. 12 For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. 13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me.

David offered a wide range of expression in this Psalm. He was confident in God's power to protect and provide, but he cried out in need. His appeal to God had a dire sense of urgency, but he waited patiently for God to hear and act. Though he was surrounded by numerous troubles, he counted God's many blessings toward him. While he anticipated God's deliverance in the days ahead, he recounted God's saving acts in the past.

Response and Action:
There are many things that challenge and overwhelm me today, but I will put my confidence in God. As I look to tomorrow, I will remember the things God has done for me in the past. As I call out to God for help and provision, I will praise God for the many ways he has already rescued and provided. I will not allow the troubles of today to blind me to God's faithfulness, which has been proven time and time again. I will not allow the problems I face to drown out God's promises to save me.

O God, many are the wonders you have done. If I were to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Save me from the problems I face. Pull me out of the mud and give me a solid place to stand. Strengthen me as I wait upon you. Even through the storms and stress of life, my hope is in you. I praise you for your faithfulness and commit myself to your care. Whether by life or death, may Christ be exalted in me. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:35, 37-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? - - - 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Praying the Psalms of Jesus
by James Sire

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

Today's Reading:
Numbers 14:1-15:16
John 11:1-54
Psalm 40:1-8
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Focus Verses: John 11:23-27 
23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."


In raising Lazarus from the dead, Christ demonstrated his power and authority over death. He came preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, and his miracles over nature, sickness, demons, and death were a witness of the kingdom power he had.

This kingdom power is the promise and hope for our future, and the reason we can put our trust in Jesus today. The power of Jesus isn't just hope for some distant day; it's the hope for each and every day.

Response and Action:
I believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. I believe that he has the power to redeem, sustain, deliver, and rescue me. My trust is firmly placed in Jesus. I will seek him with my whole heart. I will give myself fully to pursuing him through the scriptures, prayer, devotion, worship, service, and Christian community. I trust Jesus to raise me on the final day. I trust him to raise me and sustain me today.

O God, I believe in Jesus, your Son, my Lord and Savior. I will look to him for the power and guidance I need for life today. I will live in the joy of knowing that he is greater than death, and he will raise me up. I will live by faith in the Son of Man, who loved me and gave himself for me. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: 1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in an Everyday Life
by Eugene Peterson

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Respecting Those Who Must Give an Account

Today's Reading:
Numbers 11:24-13:33
John 10:22-42
Psalm 39:1-13
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Focus Verses: Numbers 12:1-2
1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this.

Being a leader is tough. Not only did Moses have to deal with the complaints and discontent of the greater community, he also had to deal with conflicts in his inner circle—even with his own brother and sister. Aaron and Miriam were evidently having problems with two things: first, they had personal issues with Moses' wife; and second, they were jealous of Moses and felt he should share more authority with them.

God was very displeased with them and made two things very clear: first, Moses was his chosen leader and deserved their respect and support; second, God would not tolerate their prideful divisiveness.

Moses appealed to God on their behalf and the incident was put behind them. Miriam and Aaron took the rebuke to heart and never questioned Moses' leadership again.

Response and Action:
I want to give leaders the support and respect they deserve. It isn't easy to be a leader, so I will be careful to not undermine the service of those who lead, especially on the grounds of jealousy or personal issues unrelated to their leadership. Moses was a humble leader who was clearly doing his best to follow, obey, and honor God. I want to help and follow and stand behind leaders who clearly love, obey, serve, and honor God. I want to seek and love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, in order to be ready to serve and lead as God calls.

O God, thank you for the many men and women who have done so much to lead and serve others. Raise up leaders for your people today. Give us leaders who seek you and shepherd your people. Strengthen them in the times when they do not have the respect, cooperation, and support they deserve. Help me to recognize godly leadership when I see it. Help me to love and follow you so that I might honor you in the ways you call me to serve and lead. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 13:7,17
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. - - - 17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Community and Submission
by Jan Johnson

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I Am the Good Shepherd

Today's Reading:
Numbers 10:1-11:23
John 10:1-21
Psalm 38:13-22
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Focus Verses: John 10:14-18 
14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." 

The religious leaders of the time had failed to shepherd the people of Israel. They did not know them; they exploited them; they didn't care for them or defend them or sacrifice for them. Jesus, on the other hand, listened to people; he understood them and loved them. He knew them by name, and they recognized the truth of God in his voice. He was willing to lay down his life for them.

Christ's sacrifice for us was his own choice. No one took his life from him; he laid it down of his own accord. God gave him the authority and power to raise it up again.

Response and Action:
I recognize the truth of God in Jesus. I believe he is the good shepherd who can lead me to life, hope, and purpose. I give thanks to God for the sacrifice Jesus willingly made for me. I believe that Jesus laid down his life and raised it up again on the third day. I will follow in his steps and listen to his voice. I will do my best to be help others to find and follow him.

O God, thank you for Jesus, the good shepherd. Thank you that he knows my name and has called me to follow him. Thank you for his selfless love and the sacrifice he made to reconcile humanity to you. Give me a responsive and thankful heart, and help me to help others hear the voice of Jesus and come to find life in him. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 13:20-21
20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century
by Lynn Anderson